First, some news. The Herald has a brief report about the Auckland auditions. XtraMSN has a short article about the Auckland auditions with an audio item from Newstalk ZB and a news clip from TV One. And finally there's an article from The Press about a Christchurch guy who dressed up as Cookie Monster and apparently believes he was rejected because of his shaggy blue costume.
I went along to the Ellerslie racecourse today to check out the auditions.
I got there at about 2pm. There was no long snaking queue. In fact, the only people I saw outside were people leaving the building. There was no NZ Idol signage, but there was an abundance of signs advertising Nestle Bites. I saw one guy leaving on his own carrying the green slip of paper indicating he'd been asked to come back the next day.
Inside there weren't many people registering, but there was a large number of wannabes and their friends and family waiting in the main area. There was a excited buzz about the place.
The one thing I've been reading about him from reports of the other auditions is how much make up he has on. He walked near me and I saw it for myself. His face had a thick coating of shiny pancake makeup. I assume it'll look ok on TV. In person he looked like someone trying to cover up a skin disfigurement.
The Audition Process
Groups of six, and sometimes 12, were called over to a desk near the bottom of some escalators. I think the contestants checked in there, then ascended the escalator up to the next level where the auditions were held. As they went up, the people waiting down below applauded them. It almost reminded me of astronauts being seen off.
Eventually people would come back down from the auditions. Some would quickly run down the escalator, others would ride it down, smiling and waving. Everyone got applause, but the people who came back holding the magical green slip usually got more applause and cheering.
Some of the green slip people rushed into the arms of their waiting friends or family. A lot of them gave a brief interview to the cameras. I didn't see anyone crying or being angry. The rejected people seemed to be ok with it, so I guess the auditioners are being kind with their words of rejection.
Dressing To Impress
Everyone has a different definition of the audition letter's request that people "dress to impress". Some have just turned up in t-shirts and jeans. A few guys were wearing t-shirts with logos on, despite those being banned. A guy near me was wearing a pair of red vinyl trousers and an oversized black shirt. A few girls had interpreted "dress to impress" to mean "dress like a street hooker" or "dress like a drunk, divorced 40 year old mother out on the pull" (and that's quite and achievement if you're in your early 20s). There were lots of people who'd obviously gone to the effort of wearing nice clothes, but just somehow lacked the extra something to look really cool. There were a few people who'd totally got their outfit right. I wonder how well they can sing.
All the contestants had to wear a large oval sticker with their number on it. Some people stuck it on them as soon as they got it, while others waited until they were called. I saw one girl wearing a short, midriff-exposing top put her sticker on. She stuck it half on the bottom of her top, the other half on her abdomen.
The main waiting area was a loungey space overlooking the racecourse. There were tables and chairs, but a few people were sitting on the floor to be closer to the centre. The room was additionally lit by a few bright studio lights. There were heaps of Nestle Bites posters and banners all over the place. A couple of chicks were walking around giving out free samples of Bites. I noticed that a lot of people with audition numbers were declining to sample any, while all the support people were saying yes. But I'm sure a few people would have reached the audition room feeling all gooey and phlegmmy from the chocolates.
Dominic got up the front and lead the crowd in a chorus of "The lion sleeps tonight". It sounded better than you'd get from an average crowd singalong. After that he got the crowd to do some loud cheering for the cameras.
Later a girl with a guitar got up the front and sang "Hotel California". It could have been a really cool moment, but it just didn't quite work. She had a nice, sweet voice, but she sounded tense and nervous and a little flat. And besides, the song is a bit of a downer and tends to only work as a singalong in a bar full of drunk bogans who do air guitar for the solo.
Sitting near me is a family that seems to be parents with their two daughters. One of the girls is called for her audition. About 15 minutes later she comes back smiling, proudly holding the green slip. Everyone hugs and looks happy. As much fun as it would be to stick around to maybe see some drama, I figured that was a good place to leave.